A journalist and proprietor of Rwanda Focus Ltd , Shyaka Kanuma has today appeared in Gasabo High court for the first time for a hearing of a case in which he is alleged to have committed offenses involving tax fraud, tax evasion and impersonation.
The prosecution has requested that the accused be remanded for one month so as to deter him from hampering with evidence and allay worries that he may escape justice because he is said to have been arrested while fleeing the country.
Kanuma, 47, was arrested in the night of 31st December 2016.
The prosecution alleges that Kanuma, in the process of bidding for a tender in Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) falsified the salaries and professionalism of people he claimed to be employees of Rwanda Focus to meet requirements.
He later won the Rwf 44 million tender without the knowledge of the employees.
According to a written statement from former Rwanda Focus employees to prosecution, Shyaka Kanuma impersonated and forged the signature of Bamurage Annet who was the accountant of Focus Media Ltd to win the tender.
Theophile Harushyamagara, who was a journalist with Rwanda Focus explained that he realized that Kanuma had released a Rwf 500,000 cheque in his names yet he was paid only Rwf 200,000. Another journalist Mugisha Stevenson confirmed that Kanuma released a Rwf 500,000 cheque in his names yet he received Rwf 300 000 only.
It was later established among employees that Kanuma submitted false information to RDRC to win the tender. The forgery was later discovered by RDRC which filed a case before the courts of law.
Regarding the case of tax fraud, prosecution has claimed that Kanuma accepted tax arrears of Rwf 65, 256, 589 which he, Kanuma, attributed to poor performance of the media industry.
Syaka Kanuma was arrested in Kayonza as he allegedly fled the country. Kanuma has since denied the fleeing story, claiming he was traveling to Nyagatare.
Shyaka Kanuma who appeared in court without defense lawyer has said that he knows the offenses read to him adding that he is a Rwandan who invested in media sector which is not an easy landscape for investors.
He explained that he didn’t pay taxes because Focus Media Ltd made losses.
He also accepted the accusation of sending false information to RDRC to win the tender.
He explained that he didn’t forge journalists’ signatures but rather they willingly signed out of their own volition after agreeing to be given the amount indicated on cheques which they later never got in full his company has other problems he had to solve.
Kanuma applied for bail to take care of his family, promising he will not flee the country.
The hearing for bail application will take place on Monday 16th January 2017.